The summer of 2014 was a busy time for many of our favorite ski areas. Here’s a quick synopsis of what’s new.
Blue Mountain implemented RIFD ticket and gate technology. Rather than being restricted to certain set six hour periods, skiers can now start their day whenever they want with the RFID tickets being valid for the six hours following the first scan. They have also built a new pump house and installed six new pumps, which will significantly increase snowmaking capacity. Trail-cutting continues on the far-side of the mountain, to the east of Paradise Trail.
There’s a also new progression terrain park named “Yeti,” located off Burma Road. With a gentle slope and small-scale green features, Yeti is designed for groms and is the easiest of Blue’s six terrain parks. If you’re into tubing, a new 450-foot surface carpet lift in the 21-lane tubing park will reduce wait-time between runs.
Elk Mountain added additional parking this year (and probably planted more pine trees), further reinforcing their reputation for frugality.
Hunter Mountain has purchased a bunch of new snowmaking guns, equipped with energy efficient automated water pumps along with a new PistenBelly groomer, bringing the groomer fleet up to eight beasts.
Randy Nelli, the former Freestyle Grooming Supervisor at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood has rejoined the Hunter grooming team. Nelli, who grew up skiing at Hunter, designed and built parks for the Windells Camp, a year-round snowsports camp whose staff and alumni are among the most accomplished riders on the planet.
Killington Ski Resort reclaimed about 10 feet on each side of the Vertigo, Lower Ovation, Bear Cub, Ridge View, and Great Eastern trails after mowing and trimming efforts through the summer. No trees were removed; workers simply cut out years of underbrush growth.
The Beast also replaced nearly 400 older snow guns with new low-energy models that will reduce compressed air usage by 10%, which means the quality of snow will more closely resemble natural snow while saving energy.
Okemo Mountain installed a six-pack, high-speed, detachable lift called The Sunburst Six which replaces the old Northstar Express quad. The first of its kind in North America, the Sunburst is a six-person chairlift with heated seats and a retractable, transparent dome. In addition, like many other New England ski areas, Okemo invested in new energy-efficient snow guns that will maximize snowmaking potential for a longer season.
At Stowe, a three-year $9.8 million snowmaking expansion project was completed this year increasing opportunities for more early and late season terrain. New equipment includes almost twenty miles of snowmaking pipe and 615 energy efficient snow guns. The high-speed Summit Gondola Skyride has newly refurbished cabins.
Over on Spruce, the Meadows Quad chairlift, with capacity to carry over 2,000 passengers per hour, replaces the Alpine and Easy Street Doubles on Lower Spruce Peak. With a carpet-loader, the state-of-the-art Doppelmayr lift is easily accessible for beginners and children.
Gore put in a new high speed detachable quad, the Adirondack Express 2, replacing its 30 year old predecessor. Showcase —the run beneath the Express — has been widened in a few spots on skiers left, placing the line more in the center of the trail. The new lift also has 8 fewer towers, creating a more wide open run below.
The Adirondack Express 2 wasn’t the only improvement at Gore this summer. Topridge received 22 new snow guns. The new tower guns will be more efficient using only 25% of the air used by the ground guns that have been used in the past.
Whiteface Mountain ponyed up its biggest investment to date in energy efficient snow making equipment this summer. Fan guns have been placed in key locations on Summit Express, Victoria, and the top of Boreen chute. These are complimented by over 100 new tower guns placed around the mountain.
Cannon Mountain spent nearly $2 million in improvements for 2014-2015, including roughly $1 million towards Phase I of the Mittersill improvement project which involves trail work and expansion and a new snowmaking compressor that will add 28 percent more snowmaking capacity. Cannon has also spent an additional $500,000 in other snowmaking upgrades, snowmaking lines and new high efficiency snow guns.